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Selling a Business & PCT

For the selling or ceding business owner, few considerations are as important - but receive so little attention - as PCT.

Purpose. Community. Time.

For anyone contemplating "retirement," it's important to understand the sense of purpose, feeling of community, and allocation of time that comes from having a job and being part of a group. It's important to understand how PCT might be replaced in retirement.

But these issues are magnified many times over for the entrepreneur. That business the entrepreneur has built often defines their sense of purpose. The employees - many hired directly by the entrepreneur - are their only community. And, there's rarely much time for life outside of the business. The business may be the entrepreneur's ONLY PCT.

It follows then, that the sale of the entrepreneur's business is necessarily a major event, rife with potential for disillusionment and depression.

Purpose and community are powerful and fundamental human needs. Look no further than Tony Robbin's model of 6 human needs, or Robert Cialdini's 6 principles of influence. Sense of purpose is necessarily associated with contribution (Robbin's - need for contribution). We all like to feel that we're part of something (Robbin's - need to be part of a group) and that we matter and are liked and respected (Cialdini - social and liking principles).

As I recently noted to a multi-decade entrepreneur contemplating a business sale:

"I encourage you to think a lot about purpose, community, and time. Your business has been the epicenter of your life for a very long time. Your sense of purpose, who you associate with, and how you spend your time, are all primarily connected to your business. Any kind of sale or transition event should not be undertaken (in my opinion) until you have a clear sense of new purpose, what your future "community" will look like, and how you'll spend your time.

I'd like to see you feeling excited about what's next in your life. I'd like to see you re-energized by the prospect of change, even if that change is simply to reduce your workload, and even if temporary. If your commitments and obligations under the proposed sale are well-defined....then the proposed transaction can provide the best set of possible outcomes for you and your stakeholders. In essence, I am suggesting that you view the sale as a springboard to new learning, growth, and contribution."

The sale of a business or the ceding of a business to the next generation of ownership, while often stressful, provides the opportunity to better understand one's self. It provides the opportunity to explore the true benefits derived from owning and operating the business. Some of those "benefits" may not necessarily be constructive for the owner - say, where the business is an escape from difficult personal relationships or painful past experiences. Other "benefits" may actually be that - the chance to express one's creativity or lead a diverse group of individuals to effect change and impact.

It's not surprising that this key milestone in the lifecycle of the entrepreneur and their business calls for the most important of life skills - stillness, reflection, introspection, awareness. Unfortunately, the surge of activity associated with preparing a business for sale does not make finding quiet time easy. But only through awareness and planning can the selling entrepreneur grasp the uncertainty of what is to come.

A new business problem to solve? Philanthropy? Family time? Look within, think PCT, and embrace what's next.


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